top of page

Learning Session "C" - Monday March 27, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:15 pm


Student Oriented Workshop

C1     Designing Culturally Responsive Youth Engagement Programs

Akon M. Walker, Program Coordinator, Educational Liaison, Solano County Office of Education


Come learn how to build innovative community partnerships to provide culturally relevant, non-conventional, and responsive youth engagement programs for youth in foster care by examining key components of the Solano Counseling and Cuts Mentorship Program. We will learn about the program, which is a five-week mentorship and empowerment program in partnership with Solano Community College, Solano County Office of Education, Solano school districts, local barbers, cosmetologists, mental health providers, and community-based organizations for youth between the ages of 13 and 21. This interactive workshop will include opportunities for you to design local strategies for culturally responsive youth engagement programs, utilizing key components and lessons learned from the Solano Counseling and Cuts Mentorship Program.

C2      There Is No Place Like Home: The Youth Acceptance Project

America Islas, LMFT, Family Builders

Vida Khavar, LMFT, Family Builders


LGBTQ+ and gender expansive children and youth are among the most vulnerable, overrepresented populations in foster care. We will discuss the barriers to permanency specifically affecting LGBTQ+ children and youth.  We will also discuss Family Builders Youth Acceptance Project (YAP) which is an intervention tool for working with the families of LGBTQ+ and gender expansive children and youth in foster care. The intervention tool serves as a family preservation and family reunification tool, assisting families who are struggling with the sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression of their child.

C3     Beyond College & Career Preparation: Creating Space for Identity-Based Exploration and Self-Empowerment

Cassi Colangelo, BGSA Graduate Program Assistant, 

Karina Garcia, BGSA Academy Director

Tomipe Kukoyi, Case Manager

Seydel Ovies, Youth Coach

First Star Bruin Guardian Scholars


Supporting the wide-ranging needs of the foster youth community extends beyond academic and career supports. In this session, we will explore the utilization of identity-based student committees within the First Star Bruin Guardian Scholars Academy (BGSA) as spaces for student identity exploration and self-empowerment. Committees are intended to build community around common interests or life experiences, and promote peer mentorship by empowering student staff to facilitate them. You will learn the importance of providing space for student self exploration and best practices for implementing student committees, including the facilitation of intergroup dialogue. You will also hear first hand from students and staff in the program about their experiences.


C4     Fostering Resilient Scholars Through Intentional Programing

Yasmin Dorado, Coordinator of Student Services, Antelope Valley Union High School District

Kawena Cole, Senior Program Specialist, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Cassandra Dumas, Counselor, Antelope Valley Union High School District


Come learn about the best practices and creative programs that were implemented by the Antelope Valley Union High School District (AVUHSD) in Los Angeles County. You will learn how AVUHSD launched a district wide Foster Youth Ambassador Program, Resilient Scholars programs at each school site, annual foster youth events such as Independent City, and how to leverage collaboration with community based organizations and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. You will also hear about funding options to consider, how to solicit support from the community, and how to leverage the amazing staff that are vested in seeing our population of students in foster care succeed in school and beyond. We will also share all the nuances we have found of ensuring students in foster care graduate with every resource at their disposal, and prepared to pursue their post-secondary goals including but not limited to college, career and technical training, and employment.

C5     Your Program's Story: How to Develop A Program Logic Model

Veronica Alvarez, School Counselor and Edwin Arvizo, School Counselor.

Riverside County Office of Education


Telling the story of your program in only one page? Yes, it really is possible through the use of a logic model! In this session you will learn the purpose of a logic model and walk away being able to describe the various components that go into creating this visual program roadmap and understand how to apply it to your own program. I will give you an example of how this tool was utilized with the Riverside County Office of Education’s Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program. You will leave with fillable templates to identify the content to use for your logic model to begin your own logic model building process!

C6     Taking Care of Yourself Helps Us Care for Others: Honoring our Empathy and Minimizing Burnout

Nikita Gupta, MPH, Resilience Educator and Healing-Practice Coach, LIITE Inc.


The effects of the pandemic and related social challenges on Foster Youth, ourselves and our communities have posed many challenges as we bravely move forward. Many caring professionals are feeling the strain and emotional burnout of our current realities. In this session, you will gain a deeper understanding of secondary trauma and burnout as it is experienced in the body, and ways to take care of ourselves as we care for others. I will draw from lessons learned and outcomes gained through my 20+ years of work serving foster youth and other at-promise groups as resilience educator, healing practice coach and founding director of the UCLA GRIT Coaching Program. This interactive session will offer somatic strategies for restoration in the middle of the day to minimize burnout and release excess urgency, and you will learn and practice one tool that can be applied to yourself, your peers and the Youth that you serve.


C7     School Stability and Special Education: Increasing Stability and Addressing Challenges of Instability

Alaina Moonves-Leb, Senior Staff Attorney, Alliance for Children's Rights

Two major challenges youth in foster care face are mobility and high levels of special education needs. There are unique entitlements to protect and support these youth coming out of laws for youth in foster care, as well as special education laws; however, it can be difficult to navigate the different systems of law, policies and practices. Learn from the California Foster Youth Education Task Force’s School Stability and Special Education subcommittees why school stability is so important for youth with higher levels of education needs, and how to work to partially mitigate those challenges when supporting a youth who is not able to remain in their school of origin through a new resource they have created. It also includes tips and suggestions for the logistical complications that can arise when a youth is in special education and exercising their right to remain in their school of origin.

C8     Know Your Education Rights and Become Your Own Advocate

Amanda Burckhardt, Education Advocate & Trainer, Alliance for Children's Rights

Former foster and/or probation youth co-presenting


Do you know your educational rights?  Do you know how to effectively advocate for yourself in school?  You have special education protections not afforded to other students in order to help mitigate the negative effects of school instability and trauma.  Come to this workshop and find out what they are and how you can use them in your own life to better your educational path.

C9      Resilience is Everything

Dee Hankins, Event MC, Former Foster Youth

Dee Hankins will share his experience in foster care, talk about how he built resilience in his own life and talk

with the students about how you can find hope and resilience in your own life. Leave with more new tools and ideas

on how to overcome obstacles you may encounter in your life. 


C10     Counselors, Connections, and College: Trauma-Informed College Counseling Tips for High School Students in Foster Care

Kim Faulkner-Camacho, Coordinator III, Los Angeles County Office of Education Foster Youth Services Technical Assistance Program

Anna Heinbuch, Coordinator II, Los Angeles County Office of Education Mental Health & School Counseling

Celia Coronado, School Counselor, Learn 4 Life Charter School

Lisa Allardyce, Consultant & Former HS Counselor, San Luis Obispo COE FYSCP

It’s been said that having a good education will increase a person’s chance of post-high school success. While that may be true, everyone’s definition of success and roadmap to college looks different. Students in foster care have hopes and dreams too and benefit from caring adults and school counselors who use a trauma-informed lens to help them apply to colleges that fit their needs. This workshop will provide trauma-informed tips for school counselors and others working with students in foster care to help them identify colleges, mentorship programs, financial aid, scholarships, and other resources to support former and current students in foster care.  Hear from a panel of expert school counselors and foster care alums who will share their stories of success and triumph in navigating the system to ensure success in life after high school.

C11     Today's Foster Youth: How to Create a Comprehensive Foster Youth Support Program on Your Campus

Jenna Mendez, TK-12 District Foster Youth Counselor/Liaison, Corona-Norco Unified School District


Foster youth are often the “invisible” underserved population. Come to this workshop to learn how to create a comprehensive academic and social/emotional program serving the needs of today’s foster youth. The presentation will include data, academic supports, on campus programs, mentorships, district and community outreach, career readiness, resources, and how to build meaningful relationships for this at-promise population. Financial options and how to continue growing the program will also be discussed. Leave with ideas and strategies you can implement immediately at your school sites on how to work with foster youth at any grade level.


I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

bottom of page